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June 12, 2007 > New Atlas of the Moon (Review)

New Atlas of the Moon (Review)

By Robert A. Garfinkle, FRAS

"New Atlas of the Moon"
By Thierry Legault and Serge Brunier
Translated from the French by Klaus R. Brasch
Firefly Books; 125 pages; $55.00

This outstanding lunar photographic atlas is in a class by itself, and I don't say that lightly. The large format (12-1/2 x 11-1/2 inches) allows for the publication of incredibly clear images of the Moon. Thierry Legault took most of the images. The covers are hard, but the book is spiral-bound, which allows the reader to lay the book flat without bending pages at the center.

The book contains two main sections; the "Moon from Day to Day", and "Lunar Cartography". The first section is divided by lunation day with a large-scale image for most of the days. One thing that I truly like is for these large-scale images, they supplied a transparent layover with the feature names on them. Under some of the feature names is the page number where you will find a high-resolution image of the feature and descriptive text about it in the second section. Not all of the features called out on the lunation pages have high-resolution images in the second section. On the text page, the authors provide an image of the Moon seen on that lunation day as viewed through binoculars (north up) and a larger image as seen through a refractor (south up). A small blurry image shows you how the Moon on that day looks like with the unaided eye.

The book contains a clearly written "How to use this Atlas" page that shows typical pages from the book. One is an introduction for a lunation day and pages showing the high-resolution images.

A third section, "Lunar Movements" teaches you how the Moon moves around the Earth, covers both lunar and solar eclipses, observe occultations, and gives practical tips for observing the Moon, selecting and purchasing the right kind of telescope and photographic equipment or lunar observing. This section contains minor errors in the way the Sun's rays are drawn in eclipse diagrams. Rays are shown as a cone and inverted cone between the Sun and Moon in the solar eclipse drawing and between the Sun and Earth in the lunar eclipse drawing. The Sun's rays are parallel; it is the shadow cast by a sphere that forms a cone pointing away from the light source. Also, the lunar eclipse scale is erroneous; they show a series of moons passing through the Earth's shadow taking up almost a quarter of the Moon's orbit. The novice would have no idea that these drawings are not to scale, because that is not indicated.

I own a number of lunar atlases (too many according to my wife) and this one is one of the best produced for use by a beginning lunar observer. The images are downright spectacular and sharp. There are no out-of-focus images, except those previously mentioned. The large format allowed the authors to use large images, which makes it easier to see fine details. When using other lunar atlases that I own, I need a magnifying glass to see these details. This is not a problem with this work. The text is clear and informative, and the "how-to-use-this-book" is a big asset. I highly recommend this lunar atlas not only for new lunar observers, but for experienced observers as well.

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